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New Chinese "OTO" market via smartphone

Koubei.comBEIJING: Online payment service Ant Financial Services and the Alibaba Group will invest a total of RMB6 billion in a new joint venture based on Alibaba's Koubei.com platform to develop a Chinese market for local services that can be ordered and paid via a smartphone.

The companies want to make Koubei.com (right) a hub for "online-to-offline" (O2O) e-commerce to "transform and upgrade China's local services sector, offering consumers enhanced dining and shopping experiences," according to Samuel Fan, the company's new CEO.

Alibaba says it will transfer its 'Taodiandian' food ordering and delivery business to Koubei while Ant Financial's merchant services for offline retail, healthcare and vending machines will also be rolled into the joint venture. Ant Financial is poised to launch one of China's first Internet banks.

"Consolidating our resources under Koubei allows us to capture opportunities that navigate both the offline and online markets," Fan added.

The company says consumers will be able to access Koubei.com through Ant Financial's 'Alipay Wallet' app and Alibaba's 'Mobile Taobao' app, enabling them to use mobile devices to find and purchase a variety of on-demand services including car repairs, movie tickets, take-out lunches and even hospital appointments. Koubei will also serve as a platform through which local merchants can adopt mobile payment solutions and conduct mobile marketing campaigns.

According to Alibaba, a recent McKinsey survey of Chinese consumers found that 71 percent are already using O2O services and nearly one-third of those who have not yet used O2O services said they would like to try them within the next six months.

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